What do sociologists mean by globalisation and how have they tried to explain it? Globalisation is a highly contested and often misunderstood concept, which is at the forefront of much modern day scrutiny and debate and is a very important factor in modern society. It has bridged gaps between countries and cultures and encouraged a trend of international trading, whereby the world becomes active in global trading.
Some sociologists believe it is a good thing, whereas some believe that nothing good can come out of it. With America becoming the dominant world force in terms of wealth and trading, many sociologists will also link the issue of globalisation to the new term of "Americanisation". This has seen cultures disintegrate, with youth culture being very much influenced by the manner in which the global brands impose their trends and authority onto an eager nation.
The French government have taken measures to make sure that France does not become to influenced by American culture; making sure a certain amount of French songs are played on the radio and banning certain Americanisms in publications. In this instance, globalisation can seem ruthless, oblivious to the culture it is invading and solely interested in converting people to the companies way of thinking. In this case, profit seems to come before tradition.
There are two main arguments dealing with globalisation in terms of sociology. The first explains globalisation as merely being a phenomenon characterized by changes in the world economy. The second deals with globalisation being a new phase of capitalism that transcends the unit of the nation-state.
Globalisation can suggest simple capitalism. Something that merely involves the Western, developed world. Companies such as McDonalds and Nike pioneered the concept, breaking down geographical barriers and setting up their business in many different countries. This created the sense of there being a global market, a force that was worldwide as opposed to being confined to one country only.
With regard to third world countries, Weber argues that due to globalisation, undeveloped countries will be able to accelerate the developing process, by adopting the 'correct cultures and values. Globalisation is their main chance of developing, by a process of adoption of the methods and philosophies on display in the Western world. However, other sociologists will argue globalisation is just another way for the rich, western world to exploit the third world countries. The other negative viewpoint of globalisation is a transitional class, which consists of the most powerful people from the top corporations in society. He believes that the multinational companies are the "Transitional Capitalist Companies".
They have the power and the wealth to exploit these countries as much as they want, as the developing countries are merely struggling to lift themselves from their own pits of depravity. This is where issues such as labour exploitation come into the equation. A fully functioning global company setting up business in the third world will always look to keep labour costs down, by exploiting the under-qualified workforce, who would not know of the sort of wages they should be asking for. They believe that globalisation will have limited benefits for third world countries, until they cut off all ties with the Western world.
This is due to their being a feeling of dependency, by which the third world is not developing at a natural rate, but is merely feeding off investment and interest show in its own country. It is not using the globalisation techniques, instead the developing world is being used by globalisation as merely a place to exploit cheap labour and avoid certain taxes. Some areas are so keen to have corporate, global companies establish themselves within their country that the government offers grants, subsidies and special tax avoiding benefits, hoping to be incentives to locate there. Therefore, two established sociological theories regarding globalisation seem to clash, proving how much debate and controversy there is over the issue.
Another theorist argues that globalisation is setting a good example for the third world countries, whereas the other main argument completely contradicts it, stating that the global companies are in it for mere exploitation. The concept of globalisation is not about society as a whole but about individual multinationals, companies who have evolved to huge and powerful organisations.
They exploit and use people predominantly from third world countries as they choose, and it is all simply for their own gain. Globalisation has more benefits for multinationals than it does for undeveloped countries and its inhabitants. It allows them to push their cultures and values deeper into society, this can be seen with the Americanisation concept. According to some theorists, it forces undeveloped countries to become even more dependant for aid and trade. In the long run they are not developing naturally and their culture is being destroyed. It is common to see huge, high rise buildings in completely deprived areas of shanty town.
Therefore the contrast of lifestyle is immense, as the rich world has literally embedded itself in the centre of some of the poorest areas of the world. The debt which third world countries have built up means that the Third World is in full control of the smaller countries and such deprived countries will continue to owe them. All the while the global philosophy of happiness and wealth in the world is being preached, despite its obvious flaws. There are blatant arguments for and against the use of such ruthless globalisation techniques being used in the business world.
The impact it can have on developing countries is immense. It can create so many jobs and revamp areas dramatically, while at the same time acting as an exploiting foreign concept, that is completely out of touch with the traditional surroundings of its new habitat. Sociologists talk of globalisation as being a huge world power, something that has spread quickly across the globe, bridging gaps in world communication. People are interacting across the world on a daily basis about business deals and opportunities and as such, a global market has been created. Whether or not this is a positive concept is still being debated.